We've been following the automated car story for quite some time.  Google has been a driving force (clever choice of words, right?) in the technology and up until now has done most of the talking.  But the U.S. Department of Transportation released a press release on the topic of an "automated vehicle" in May 2013.

Transportation secretary Ray LaHood had this to say, "our research covers all levels of automation, including advances like automatic braking that may save lives in the near term, while the recommendations to states help them better oversee self-driving vehicle development, which holds promising long-term safety benefits."

The NHTSA's policy addresses:
•    An explanation of the many areas of vehicle innovation and types of automation that offer significant potential for enormous reductions in highway crashes and deaths;
•    A summary of the research NHTSA has planned or has begun to help ensure that all safety issues related to vehicle automation are explored and addressed; and
•    Recommendations to states that have authorized operation of self-driving vehicles, for test purposes, on how best to ensure safe operation as these new concepts are being tested on highways.

The department defines an automated vehicle as one that operates with driver input to steering, acceleration or braking.